Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Lori McInnes and her friend Laurie Straw from St. Catharines are the happy recipients of Hospice Niagara’s Catch the Ace, a fun fundraiser that has captured the attention of many Niagara residents.
McInnes is a retired volunteer from Hospice Niagara, and became friends with Straw, a retired employee of the palliative care organization, during the years they worked together.
For a bit of fun, and to help out an organization they both care deeply about, they decided to spend $20 a week — together — on 10 tickets.
McInnes’s envelope was picked in week 13, and had the winning ace.
The lottery is similar to a 50/50 draw, with weekly prizes of 20 per cent of the draw, which for McInnes and Straw was $3600. Because they had the ace, they also won the progressive jackpot of $56,310.
Fifty per cent of all ticket sales goes to hospice palliative care in Niagara. Hospice Niagara helps people and families live well from the time of diagnosis of a terminal illness and during treatment, through to end-of-life care and in bereavement.
Both women say in addition to the thrill of winning the jackpot, they continue to be great supporters of Hospice Niagara.
“I’m not a lottery person, and I’d never heard of it before, but apparently it’s quite a common fundraiser. And if I’m going to buy a ticket, I’d like it to go to a good cause.”
Winning, “is a really good feeling knowing it is helping an important cause. I’m such a huge supporter of Hospice Niagara. It can be sad, but it’s also very uplifting It’s an amazing place. I’m happy to be a winner, and to have had Hospice Niagara as part of my life for a good many years.”
Straw says in the years she was working, fundraising was always important to support the operating costs of the organization.
In their retirement, McInnes and Straw have developed what they call a “hobby business,” combining woodworking and quilting, which they both enjoy.
McInnes says her basement is given over to space for both, and between them, they know enough people who ask them to make custom items that they keep busy without having to advertise.
“We keep ourselves busy,” she says, and with some of the proceeds they have decided to buy a sewing machine to help them out.
This was Hospice Niagara’s second Catch the Ace draw, the two totalling about $330,00, says Alicia Merry, fund development manager.
With in-person events cancelled and fundraising such an important part of covering operational costs, finding ways to safely raise money during a pandemic has been important.
In a normal year, Hospice Niagara would have a fundraising goal of $1.8 million, but with the increased costs of operating during a pandemic, they’ve set their goal at $2 to $2.5 million, says Merry.
Fortunately, they can send out appeals to their large number of supporters, they have two annual fundraisers they’ve been able to hold virtually, and they also apply for any appropriate grants that could help out, she says.
The next fundraiser will be their 13th annual 5 Car Draw. For more information about that fundraiser see the Hospice Niagara Facebook page.
“We’re really excited to get it going next week,” Merry says.